If you have been lifting before, you’d know why a warm-up is crucial before doing any compound training such as squats. But is stretching enough as a warm-up for squats? No. Stretching is a popular part of it, but it’s not in itself, a complete warm-up. To avoid serious injuries, every lifter must know how to warm up for squats properly.
Have you strained a muscle in the first few minutes of lifting? That’s most likely because you rushed into the workout and skipped warm-up altogether. I’m guilty of that too! But since the strained muscle, I’ve been doing proper warm-ups before doing any compound training. Let’s take a quick look at how I do my warm-ups for squats.
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Why Is Warming Up Crucial To Squats?
Lifting without proper warm-up makes you prone to injury. Why? Because not prompting your muscles to loosen up may lead to poor mobility, thus reducing your dynamic flexibility. If you’re not flexible, you won’t achieve good form while lifting. And a bad form can quickly cause accidents and injury.
If you’re trying to gain mass, then you can’t afford to be injured. Don’t end up with a muscle pull just because you skipped your warm-up again!
It’s important that you learn proper warm-up; so this quick guide might come handy:
What You’ll Need
Jump Rope / Skip Rope
Jumping rope is a great cardio exercise in itself. It’s an excellent conditioning exercise that gets your heart pumping and opens up your lungs. When you jump rope, your VO2 max level will improve. Expect your stamina to improve in no time after a few sessions of jump rope.
Most ropes range from 8 to 10 feet long, but you can cut it to adjust to your height. For speedwork, get one that’s made of plastic material.
You’ll need a towel in conjunction with a resistance band for the warm-up. I’ll show you a bit later how you’re supposed to use it. For now, make sure you get one that’s either made of cotton fabric or microfibers. Why? Because you’ll be sweating profusely, and you don’t want the sweat to dry on your skin and your other equipment. There’s a reason gyms provide towels.
Cotton acts like a sponge, but it holds a good amount of water. Microfibers have excellent absorbent characteristics that can absorb moisture.
Resistance bands have gained notoriety in the fitness world and are now being used extensively by trainers and those who are trying to gain strength. This elastic band creates constant tension throughout your warm-up. What does that mean to you? It means you’re accelerating your muscle growth.
Resistance bands come in different lengths and tensions. You’ll find some are flat and some are tubular with a protective cover. The tension level will have to be anywhere between 15-200 pounds of resistance. Some manufacturers use a color-coding system to identify the tension levels.
Suspension Trainer (TRX)
A suspension trainer is training equipment that uses ropes or straps for limb strength and core stability. It is bodyweight support that’s anchored to a sturdy point above your head.
To get an idea of what a suspension trainer is, watch this video.
You should pay attention to your body’s position while using a suspension trainer. Without proper posture, you won’t be able to work your core. You’ll be using a suspension trainer for the squat warm-up, so if you don’t have one at home, better go to the gym and use one.
How To Do The Squat Warm-Up
Step 1 – Jump Rope For 30 Seconds Up To A Minute
Skipping rope is the fastest way to get your heart rate pumping. It’s one of the most convenient, easiest, and sustainable cardio exercise known to man. You only need a rope that’s readily available in your sports good stores, but make sure you don’t get one that’s shorter than your height.
Step 2 – Do The Bird Dog Exercise
Get on your hands and knees on the floor. Extend your right arm forward and extend your left leg backward. Now, draw your left knee and right elbow under your body before extending your arm long forward, and your knee backward. Place your hands and knees back on the floor now in their original start position. Repeat, alternating knees and arms.
Not sure how to perform the bird dog? Check out this video for a quick demonstration.
Step 3 – Do An External Rotation
Here’s where you’ll use the towel. Tuck it in between your elbow and your side. Grab the resistance band’s handle at your elbow height. Now, rotate your body so that there’s no tension on the band when your forearm rests on your stomach. Rotate your upper arm outwards now. Your forearm must be perpendicular to your body.
You can return to the start position now before you do your other side.
Step 4 – Lunge And Reach Back
Drop your knee as close to the floor as possible while you take a lunge step out. You must push your hips forward, and your hands must be extended overhead. Try to lean back as though you’re trying to reach your back foot. Hold the position for a moment then return to your original start position.
Step 5 – Do The Prayer Stretch With Rotation
Palms together, place your hands together in front of your body. Lower your hand as far down as you can. You should be feeling a forearm stretch as you do that. Now, have your fingers facing forward by rotating your hands. Hold for a second, and rotate your hands back in towards you. If you can point at your chest, do it.
Not sure how to do the prayer stretch with rotation? Watch this video.
Step 6 – Do The Inchworm Move
With straight legs and a straight back, bend over as far as you can. Try to reach the ground with your hands. With just your hands on the floor, crawl into a pushup position. Drop your hips almost to the floor, crawling back until your hands reach your feet again. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings by now.
Step 7 – Do The Carioca/Grapevine Exercise
The carioca, also known as grapevine, is a fast tempo warm-up exercise. Step your left foot over your right. This will turn your hips to clockwise direction. Uncross your right leg from under your left. Your feet and hips must now be shoulder-width apart. Now, step your left leg behind your right leg, again turning the hips. Step your right leg from over the left so that your feet and hips are again shoulder-width apart and pointing forward. Try to do this until you reach 30 feet.
Did this warm-up confuse you? Watch the video for clarity.
Step 8 – Do The Assisted Squat With A Suspension Trainer
With arms fully extended, stand upright. Squat down as low as you can while not letting go of the suspension trainer. Your feet must be hip-width apart. While squatting down, make sure the pressure on the foot is concentrated on the heels. Do not shift with the toes. While squatting with the suspension trainer, make sure your head and neck remain facing forward.
Tips From The Pros
#1 – Don’t Ignore Dynamic Exercises!
Just because you’re prepping for squats does not mean the only warm-up exercises you should do is lifting lighter weights. Dynamic stretches such as the warm-up exercises mentioned above are excellent for increasing your muscle core temperature. Such dynamic exercises will help you improve your range of motion around your joints, which is critical during squats.
#2 – Do Not Forget Thermogenics!
Before a heavy workout such as deadlifting or squats, it’s important that you start your warm-up with something that will elevate your heart rate. And nothing does that better than jumping rope or jumping jacks.
#3 – Always Start With An Empty Bar When Squatting!
Even after you’ve done your warm-up exercises, you should still always start with an empty bar when you squat. Do 2 sets of 5 reps. If you jump straight to your work weight, say 160 pounds, then you’re inviting injury to yourself. Why? Because your joints aren’t that warmed up yet.
It’s easy to start a workout and think you’re going to get buffed quickly by lifting heavy loads as soon as you hit the gym, but it’s easier to get injured as you keep ignoring the necessary warm-up exercises before lifting. If you understand your body better, you’d know that much like a car; it needs to be started up to hear the rev of the engine and conclude it’s safe to use for the day.
Do you do the same warm-up exercises? If there are any you’d like to add that you think are great in warming up the muscles to get them ready for a squat session, let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you! If you found the article useful, please don’t forget to share the article too!